Visiting Knox County – Things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and surrounds

Knox County, Ohio is often overlooked. From Knox County’s center in Mount Vernon, it is 45 minutes to Columbus and over 90 minutes from Cleveland. Don’t let the drive stop you, because Knox County is home to a glam hotel, a hip liberal arts college, and numerous hiking and biking opportunities. Here are just a few things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and its surroundings.

Things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio

Centered around a roundabout (or maybe more of a square-about), Mt. Vernon Square hosts a weekly farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Beyond that time, you’ll find antique shops, restaurants, and an excellent coffee shop. The Happy Bean has a warm, industrial feel. I could have stayed here all day. Can someone design my kitchen to look like this? I digress:

Visiting Knox County, Ohio - Mount Vernon and its surrounds has plenty to entertain with or without kids

Ariel Foundation Park

After your caffeine jolt, head to the new Ariel-Foundation Park. Not far from downtown, and on the site of the former Pittsburgh Plate Glass manufacturing plant site, sits the 250-acre park. The landscaping is not something you’re used to, pieces of metal were refurbished to make sculptures, and crushed glass serves as a mulch-like substitute.

The Rastin Observation Tower is not for those afraid of heights! It’s 224 steps just to the observation tower! The view is worth the shaky knees, I promise.

If you’re visiting on a summer weekend, make sure you check out The Ariel-Foundation Park Facebook page for a list of upcoming events.

Things to do in Mount Vernon, Ohio - Climb the Rastin Tower at Ariel-Foundation Park - Knox County, Ohio
Things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio - Knox County - Climb the Rastin Tower in Ariel-Foundation Park

The Dog Fountain at South Main Plaza

Friends of Fido will enjoy visiting the Dog Fountain at South Main Plaza. Each whimsical statue is a different breed “feeding” the fountain. Other than one gray cat and a shetland pony, this fountain has totally “gone to the dogs.”

The fountain area has plenty of benches and a few picnic tables, so bring your lunch or dinner. Make sure you take time to walk around the fountain and enjoy its small details.

Things do outside of Mt. Vernon – throughout Knox County

Further to the east towards Gambier, Ohio is the Brown Family Environmental Center. The center, run by Kenyon College, is full of educational opportunities for young and old as it includes a Butterfly garden, a 7-acre prairie, and 8 miles of hiking trails. Our kids learned some new things in the nature center (and C petted a taxidermied squirrel- weird). The seesaw was also a hit with my family as well as my niece and nephew. There’s something about a natural play area to bring out the little child in the biggest of kids.

Visiting Knox County, Ohio - Mount Vernon, Ohio and its surrounds have plenty of things to do with and without kids.

At this point, you’re just south of Kenyon College, so pop in and check out the historic campus. If the college was good enough for U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes and actor Paul Newman, it’s good enough for us lowly folk. Lol.

Needing more caffeine? Check out the trendy Wiggin Street Coffee.

Honey Run Falls

Continue even further east (Take 229 to SR 62 E) and head towards the small (and I mean, small) town of Millwood. Lying southeast of Millwood is a gem in the woods- Honey Run Waterfall. The only waterfall of its kind in Knox County, and managed by the Knox County Park District, there is a hiking trail here and also access to the falls from the Kokosing River.

The rocks can be slippery, make sure the kiddos have proper footwear. Our tennis shoes worked just fine, but swim-type shoes would be best. The water is cold, but in the heat of summer, this is a great place to cool off.

(Like waterfalls?? – here are 5 more Ohio waterfalls to cure your wanderlust).

Visiting Knox County, Ohio - Honey Run Falls
Visiting Knox County, Ohio - Honey Run Falls

Kokosing Gap Trail – Gambier

A bicyclist or a train enthusiast? Plan a stop at the Kokosing Gap Trail in Gambier. 30-miles of old train tracks have been converted to a bike/running trail that runs from Mt. Vernon to Danville.

The cool thing about this stop in Gambier is the restored steam engine and caboose. The 0-6-0 locomotive was built in 1940 and the Chesapeake and Ohio Caboose was built in 1924 and in use until 1979. You can even climb aboard and take a peak in the window! Families of all ages will enjoy learning history while getting some exercise.

Interested in sleeping in a train? How about this restored Caboose in Hocking Hills or a train hotel in Indianapolis?

Things to do near Gambier, Ohio - Knox County, Ohio - restored train

Schnormeier Gardens

If you’re visiting during the summer months, make reservations to visit Schnormeier Gardens. The gardens are only open Thursday- Sundays during June. These private gardens are a delightful way to spend an afternoon! There are numerous sculptures, a wooded trail, and plenty of places to relax in the shade. For more information read my post on visiting Schnormeier Gardens.

things to do in Mt Vernon Ohio- Schnormeier Gardens near Gambier

A Mount Vernon hotel

A few years ago, I spent one night at the Mount Vernon Grand Hotel and it was surprisingly luxurious for small-town Ohio. Tiled showers, pillowtop beds, and in-room Keurig coffeemakers make you feel like you’re in a big city boutique. Mr. YT gave me a night away for Mother’s Day (good job!!), so I was here sans kids, but I did see a baby and some tweens in the breakfast room. That said, my room only had a shower, so if you’re taking a baby or toddler you may want to call ahead and confirm you’ll have a tub. If you’re not taking the kids, take the hubby and request a king bed! 😉

My favorite Mt. Vernon, Ohio Restaurant

Need somewhere for dinner? I dined at the Alcove Restaurant. It’s a Mount Vernon classic- they’ve been in business over 100 years! I filled up on one of the best cheeseburgers and a slice of peanut butter pie (holy calories!). The Alcove has been recently updated and the swanky interior feels worlds away from small-town Ohio.

Visiting Knox County, Ohio. The Mount Vernon Grand Hotel is a stately building.
Visiting Knox County, Ohio - the fountain on the square in Mount Vernon

Have you been to Knox County or Mount Vernon, Ohio? 

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Things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio -  Knox County, Ohio has plenty to explore! Here's my guide to visiting Knox County and Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Things to do in Mt Vernon, Ohio - Knox County, Ohio has plenty to explore! Here's my guide to visiting Knox County and Mount Vernon, Ohio. The best things to do for all ages!

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2 thoughts on “Visiting Knox County – Things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and surrounds”

  1. Pingback: 3 FREE places to take your family within one hour of Amish Country, Ohio

  2. Pingback: 3 FREE places to take your family within one hour of Amish Country, Ohio - yodertoterblog

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